In the summer of 2020, the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum (EAGM) introduced an exhibit named Inside-Out, with four outdoor installations at the Woodlawn Regional Park.
It proved to be such a big hit that they have brought Inside-Out back to Woodlawn, except with a new winter twist and a different artist.
Chantel Schultz, who is originally from Weyburn and currently working as an intern at the EAGM, has a couple of exhibits as part of Inside-Out. One is the near the shale pit adjacent to Fourth Avenue South, and the other is by the gazebo that’s near the Souris River in the main campground.
“Rather than taking something that would have been normally seen indoors and placing it outdoors, I thought it was a great opportunity to make something that needed the elements to make it all come together and to exist outside and then to recede back into the earth,” said Schultz.
She has created large ice sculptures that, from afar, look more like geological formations. As you get closer, you can see they have items inside of them. Those inclusions include kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves and other items she has been collecting.
“And then they’re all suspended within these large ice columns,” said Schultz.
The items found in the ice sculptures are all organic, so they can compost back into the earth, providing nourishment for the soil.
She has been collecting and thinking about all of these materials as discarded remnants of things that she has been using for nourishment. Inside-Out was a great opportunity to include them into something by suspending them into these ice sculptures, giving them a new purpose.
Amber Andersen, who is the EAGM’s director-curator, added that people have been thinking about what they can do to be physically and mentally nourished during the pandemic.
The idea was a big part of Schultz’s practice long before COVID hit, and has fed into this project.
“Something else that also occurred to me, too, when I was just visiting the sculptures, was that these materials were part of this ritual for me of making tea and all these other things that were providing nourishment,” said Schultz.
Schultz has had a couple of outdoor works before, but nothing made with the elements and subject to weather in this way.
Inside-Out was held last summer at Woodlawn as part of the EAGM’s effort to make art accessible to people during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, the EAGM was closed to the public.
“Inside-Out became a play on words and it’s a play on concepts as well,” said Andersen. “What you would normally see indoors, inside an art gallery, you get to see outdoors.”
People had fun seeing something different, and the artists enjoyed the engagement from their art being in a different context.
“We wanted to see what a winter version of this would look like, and really playing with the elements has been challenging, but then using the elements in our favour has worked out as well,” said Andersen.
It’s been enjoyable to watch it come together and to see how Schultz worked with the ice.
The park is an ideal location to have Inside-Out as well, even during the winter months. Even during the colder temperatures, there are people flocking to the park for hiking, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing on the trails.
“There has been such a huge push, I think, with parks and with tourism, within Saskatchewan, to embrace winter, and to try to get out and do different physical activity during that time. The park is a natural,” said Andersen.
“People are down there walking on the paths, and they’re wanting to get out and see something different. And it’s such a beautiful backdrop. Instead of having to transform four white walls, you have this beautiful, gorgeous shale pit in the background.”
Both Andersen and Schultz are pleased with how the exhibit has turned out. Andersen views this as a great way to get people to think about what they’re looking at, with ice and different layers.
“They’re a living sculpture, if you will, and so people get to see these different interactions of how the environment is going to change them,” said Andersen.
It’s also a great way to get out with friends and see something different now that the polar vortex deep freeze of earlier this month is over.
“It’s a comfortable way to go and see the works and it’s a great way to engage with art. Of course, we are now open to the public, but it’s a fantastic way for us to still partner up with someone in the community,” said Andersen.
The winter edition of Inside-Out will be on display until March 31, or until the ice sculptures melt naturally.